The Rutgers men's basketball team earned its second win of the season against Bryant this past Sunday. The Scarlet Knights (2-1, 0-0) will face another challenge against Georgetown at Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston campus this Wednesday.
Coming into this season, Rutgers lost three starters in Paul Mulcahy, Caleb McConnell and Cam Spencer. The Knights added two veterans, fifth-year guard Noah Fernandes and graduate student guard Austin Williams to help replace them. They also recruited freshman guards Gavin Griffiths and Jamichael Davis.
Even with a winning record, Rutgers and many of its new players have yet to find their groove. The Knights have lacked cohesion at times and have struggled to shoot the ball in their first three games.
“(Redshirt freshman forward Antonio Chol) can shoot the ball, and (redshirt senior forward Oskar Palmquist) and (Fernandes) can shoot the ball and (Griffiths) is a terrific shooter. So we just got some more guys that can do that, stretch the defense,” said coach Steve Pikiell before the season.
But so far, Pikiell’s words have not rung true.
In the team’s season-opening loss to Princeton, Rutgers shot 28.6 percent from three-point range. In their home opener against Boston University, the Knights won but only shot 28 percent from beyond the arc. Finally, when Rutgers faced the Bulldogs (1-2, 0-0), it somehow shot an even worse 18.2 percent from three-point land.
The Knights are going to need to boost their shooting numbers before they get into Big Ten play. Luckily for Rutgers, it has a four-game home stretch to figure things out.
Pikiell also needs to find his core starting lineup that can build charisma and get more open looks on offense. The Knights can not just rely on Griffiths, who is a freshman and will naturally struggle with consistency. Griffiths was red-hot against the Terriers (0-2, 0-0) but struggled shooting against Bryant. As a veteran leader, Fernandes will need to step up his scoring as he only put up 3 points against the Bulldogs.
Rutgers will either need to get better at shooting quickly or find ways to win while it figures out how to get more open shots.
The Knights' first chance at improving their shooting form will be this Wednesday against the Hoyas (1-1, 0-0).
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